Tracking life changes, one apartment at a time

everything needs to be done at once! but, I know minimizing my little apartment doesn't work that way.

I wish I had pictures, but they’ll all in my mind. My apartments over the years represent the many lives I’ve led. And, in this introspective time while there’s a pandemic and I’m working on overhauling my current, it helps to reflect on how many lives I’ve already led.

Let me admit up front that I don’t like reflection. I’m an intuitive, impulsive doer. But hey, even 63 is not too late to start adding a bit of thoughtful slow-downism, if only for balance.

So, the picture above is a stylized version of my current place. Stylized to make it cute, because it is a stone cold mess, and must be dealt with.

Anyway, prior apartments. Let’s see. There was the derelict ‘artist’s garret’ I somehow managed to rent with my first real boyfriend, Jonanthony Williams, he of the voluminious afro, gorgeous face, and cheating ways. It was somewhere in the Bronx, and I still don’t know quite how we managed to hold onto with our tiny teenage salaries. We filled it with easels and paintings. It offered us rats (maybe they were contributing to the rent? they were big enough), a surprising lack of filth, broken pieces of furniture, and so on. That place could only be illuminated by the power of utterly dopey teenage hormones. I don’t think any significant art was produced, and have no idea whether my delicious, treacherous paramour is still in the land of the living or not. So I can’t even ask. He was the guy who introduced me the features of my face, and bade me fall in love with my perfect nose. He was the leader, and I was the rapturously led. But even in the throes of this craziness, the nascent critical me was still judging every interaction, sure it would make for good fodder down the road.

I was a reckless sort, wanting to experience the lives my religious folks tried to shield me from.

Apartment two was a shared communal space in the East Village, filled with countercultural folks and the acoutrements thereof. I got into the group with my contribution to bail for one of our number, a very hairy guy who had decided to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge and had been persuaded against the idea by New York’s – well, not finest, but that’s what we had at the time. So Jim sat in jail, and we banded together to get him out and bring him back home. A huge pot of meat and potato and vegetable stew was waiting for him, and us, when he came back. We were an apartment-renovating collective and that part of the East Village needed us desperately. I learned about putting up sheetrock, helping someone come down when they had gotten entirely too high, the various lore of the various folks I lived with, how to navigate counterculture evenings and weekends with my day job at as a music contract administrator if you can believe it.

That apartment comes back to mind as smells, intense visuals, like the found art piece above the fireplace, all of us freaks flying our flags high as we ventured out to see the Allman Brothers, rescuing young teens who were trying to survive over on the west side, cleaning them up and getting some of the ubiquitous stew down their throats.

The next apartment was close to the first one, my hubby – from the group – and I moved across from Thompkins Square park, where we proceeded to go through a long, long, break up, although we didn’t know it. There was a tiny place in the same area where I kind of tried to recover with other friends who were exploring lots of different ways to alter minds.

That whole time was, a lot.

Hmph. I got kind of emotional working through these memories. I have a bunch more apartments, but I’ll stop here for now, and pick up the ball tomorrow.



A look from Japan at VP Kamala Harris, and a tiny bit of Tokyo

I used to devour magazines. Essence. Jet. Self. Dopey romance ones once upon a time. These days, I don’t pay much attention to them unless they’re online, and my books are by and large digital anyway. The local conbini (convenience store) has packed racks of magazines of varying levels of salaciousness. I sometimes glance at the general news ones to get a sense of what the Japanese media thinks will capture the attention of the general populace. But those glances are very much on the move.

Til this cover captured my attention:

How cool! I noticed it was a translation of an Ashley C Ford interview and she’s a writer I follow, so it was doubly awesome! I immediately thought of sharing it with the #Khive, so here it is.

I went for my regular doctor’s appointment and then wandered around Atre, a kind of upscalish mall built on top of the local train station. The colors in vogue are, as usual, pastel, and pretty bland. In clothes and whatnot, I am not the target demographic, since my everyday wear is my favorite jeans and a teeshirt. If I wear colors, they’re usually black or vibrant. But I do like wandering around occasionally, kind of like checking magazines. Here I’m wandering around one of the jewelry, knickknack shops. Certainly a wide range of ages, mostly ladies, a few couples, and plenty of singles.

All masked – which is the norm here, especially now.

Here’s the Star Wars section – many of these seem to have chocolate inside, which, you know, of course.

Here’s a look at a furniture shop. Everything feels tiny and cute. Of course, my one-room apartment is small, so the sizes are appropriate. Still feels suited to a hobbit hole, though, not that there’s anything wrong with that! 🙂

Next is a look at that same fashion general shop. See what I mean about blandness? This is just the mainstream set of colors – they’re too washed out for me.

Last is a hallway – I was trying to get a more general view without getting people in the shop, which even at 11:00am is not that easy.

Well, thanks for checking out a slice of my environment. After 25 years, when I pay attention, it can still surprise me. Of course, that’s true of my home NYC, or probably any place there’s people. We are always the most surprising element of all.

Sometimes a little help is all you need

I have been feeling like a writer’s block on 2 legs. For months. It’s not only because of the pandemic. It’s because I don’t know who I’m writing for, and I don’t value my creativity enough to do it just for me. Ugh. The imposter syndrome is completely understandable when you don’t know what you could even teach and for what tiny group of people! I thought perhaps I could write guides and helpful suggestions for folks who are older and have trouble grokking the internet. Shock your sarcastic kids with your solid knowledge of stuff like domains, and how to get support, yaknow. But it feels like there’s not a real need for that, I just made it up because I feel comfortable with all things internet.

Then, being a lifelong learner with a ton of courses I haven’t finished and would love to organize, I thought of a lifelong learner’s courselet. Take a quiz, work with me for a week, and emerge knowing the courses you have, and being able to prioritize which ones to take. But I’m not a course expert – I’m just a person who has this issue. I started to doubt anyone else did.

Then I thought about teaching something related to Tokyo/Japan. But what in the world would that be? I don’t speak the language well enough and hardly read at all, although I’m trying to learn again. I don’t have that much innate interest in Japanese culture – I mean, my family here are serious foodies and I know what that kind of focus looks like. I might as well be living back in one of my NYC apartments in the East Village, back in the 80s, for all the cultural specificity I live with when I get home. That doesn’t say anything good about me, but the point of starting to write again is to be honest. It’s not that I don’t love aspects of being here. But not enough to consider myself an expert in any of it.

Then I thought about chronicling my creative/better health journey. And I laughed at myself: dude, you can barely record your food in MyFitnessPal after eating it. Please.
I thought about chronicling my attempts at photography. I thought about focusing on music again and reconnecting with my beloved but currently kind of estranged band family (not their fault, was too depressed to deal).

Then I happened to stumble on a Facebook post (on one of my rare forays on that platform), and I saw that a beloved was sharing being a creative coach. And it hit me: I need to put some skin in the game. I had actually been looking for a coach for a while, but expense and just feeling stuck wouldn’t allow me to make any actual moves. Yet this felt right.

We had our first session last night and it was like gentle lightning. She’s about small steps. I hate small steps. I despise process. I want to be instantly ‘there’ and perfect, and my habit is to beat myself up when that, inevitably, doesn’t happen. Her firm and gentle tone gave me a hand to step over the block, at least part way.

In part of my ‘lightness’ after the session, I wrote a song called Bucket of Clay. I’m going to sing it for real, to the simplest of backing tracks, and post it when it’s done.

So far, so much better than good. Sometimes a little bit of help that cuts through the fog of self-centeredness, is the antidote.

The frantic search to uncover our power in a time of dodging the banality of evil

So this has been a very funky tragic strange set of arbitrary time slices.
that’s all a year is-we’ve decided with our human head that it’s more convenient to divide the invisible stream of time into countable bits.

Take March. I remember a pervasive sense of ill shit rolling down a hill towards me and mine and yours and just about everyone’s I already operate under a cloud of stress.I’m a Black American woman, older, working class, with every bit of the sublime and ridiculous that entails.

Plus I live in Japan, with language skills that leave tons to be desired.
I’m probably going to stay here, since the US health system isn’t made for folks like me. And even with that, I’m trying to work on my health myself, because, of course.

So here’s all of us navigating through the arbitrariness of death, pain, politics, racial reckoning and its pushback, and we somehow believe getting up in the morning and moving forward is mandatory.

It’s not.

Our reactions to the powerlessness of this time is to search, frantically, for places where we can assert our own power.

What would it feel like to just step back, like some Star Wars hero at the tip of a cliff who steps back, holds hands up in surrender, and lets whatever is next simply…happen?

Truth aka quit messing around with your American citizenship

Black people and Native people have told mainstream white Americans that racism would be America’s undoing. You didn’t listen because you were comfortable. That impulse to ignore is human.

We didn’t have that luxury.

How many Black Americans or Native Americans are your neighbors? Your beloved elders? If none, why is that?

Liberals and pragmatic progressives have been telling you to watch out for the republican party for years. We built up receipts while right wingers like the Lincoln Project people ignored that truth. Media types are all in the ‘elite’ media club, so that means the liberal voices who’ve been right for decades don’t get heard.

Change that – find your local liberal voices and amplify the heck out of them.

Quit bashing the Democratic Party. We’re the real bulwark against this traitorous shit. Both-siderism is a conservative ploy, a permission structure for knee-jerk responses from media and citizens who aren’t paying attention. Pay attention!